I've told people before where I'm coming from. Since early childhood, I have regarded people's beliefs as demons. And to make things worse, I'm as much a prisoner of those demons as anyone else. Of course, I think it proper for us to judge murderers, thieves, and other evil people - and even to sentence them when they get out of place. However, I feel that one of the most horrible crimes on earth is for a person to look at another human who has done him no harm and decide what he is, just as if the judger were some kind of god. Also, we should not take our inherited myths and preconditionings too seriously, for nothing is what we think it is.
I'll draw from some extreme examples from my life. When I was living in Costa Rica during the 1950s, I went down to the Plaza Central one day to listen to a famous Costa Rican communist who had just returned from exile. Two hundred fifty thousand people turned out to listen to him in a country that at the time had only one million inhabitants. He spent much of his time brainwashing his followers to believe that we Americans are devils. When I noticed that a few hundred or more started looking at me out of the corners of their eyes, I got out of there - fast. Was I really the kind of person he wanted them to think I was?
The above happened during President Nixon's visit to Venezuela. One day, a Venezuelan man rented a room in the boarding house where I was staying. He told me that when Nixon was visiting there, a person in his village publicly declared that he liked Americans. The villagers tied him between two horses and had them split that poor man in half! Was he really a bad man because he liked Americans? Who and what are these people who like to play God?
When I was little, I was treated almost like an outcast for being left-handed. I was also told over and over that left-handed people couldn't learn mathematics. I went through college with no more than a knowledge of arithmetic. Then, in the Marine Corps, I decided to work on myself. I found out that learning math is just like learning a language. You get a model problem or equation, learn it thoroughly, and then substitute different numbers in its place. When I got through trigonometry successfully, I learned a few odds and ends about calculus and decided to stop. That's how all math should he learned, but the academics start out with theory and the like, babbling what novices believe to be pure twaddle, which perhaps it probably is.
I say this: Let's weaken beliefs, refusing to feed them enough to conquer us. In that way, we can change them when we find ideas and facts that are more effective in our lives.